Sunday, October 14, 2018

America, a poem by Patricia Crandall published by The Back Road Cafe! Good reading.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

The Review-Getting Nudge By Carolyn Howard-Johnson,

Excerpted from the newest book in Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers,  How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically: The ins and outs of using free reviews to build and sustain a writing career.
You need only a few essentials in your Amazon tool box to build the traffic crucial for your reviews to be seen—and to convince readers to buy your book. How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically: The ins and outs of using free reviews to build and sustain a writing career helps you get the reviews that influence Amazon’s sales ranking and this section gives you everything else you need to maximize them.
Amazon sales rankings are dandy little aids for evaluating how your book is selling. Not that you should fixate on that, but having an indicator that your book might need a little sales boost is nice. And—when those ratings are nurtured—they prod Amazon’s algorithms to lead people who read books similar to yours to your Amazon buy page.
The problem is that most authors and publishers know little if anything about how those rankings come about. That isn’t their fault because I doubt if Jeff Bezos, the brains behind the entire Amazon model, knows exactly what his algorithms measure. If they’re anything like the rest of the Amazon site, they change from day to day anyway. You don’t need to know the magic behind them; you do need to know what they are and how to prod them a little:
§  Find your sales ranking (or rankings) on your book’s buy page under “product details.” Often called “metadata,” these details are the specifics for your book like ISBN, publisher, number of pages, etc. Scroll down a bit to find this section on your page.
§  If you have a ranking of 24,800, that means that 24,799 books listed in your category are selling better than your book and that up to millions of books in your book’s category are selling less well.
§  The lower your sales ranking number for your book the better. Sales rankings for your Kindle (e-book) page will not be the same as the one on your paperback page.
Note: When the pages for your paper book and e-book are digitally connected properly, your reviews will be the same on both pages. (There should be a link on each page pointing to the other.)
§  If you market and promote, your efforts may lower those rankings (lower is good!). If so, celebrate because this doesn’t always happen. Sometimes the marketing you are doing does not improve your rating at all, though it should contribute to your overall branding effort.
§  Don’t try to translate a drop in your ratings to the number of books sold. The algorithms are a lot more complicated than that.
§  Sales rankings fluctuate (sometimes wildly) during the day.

Warning: Do not spend a lot of time checking your ratings. They should be used as indicators. They shouldn’t become an obsession. It’s best not to obsess, but if you can’t avoid it, and others provide services available for pinging ratings to you in your e-mail box.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson brings her experience as a publicist, journalist, marketer, and retailer to the advice she gives in her HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers and the many classes she taught for nearly a decade as instructor for UCLA Extension’s world-renown Writers’ Program. All her books for writers are multi award winners including both the first and second editions of The Frugal Book Promoter and her multi award-winning The Frugal Editor won awards from USA Book News, Readers’ Views Literary Award, the marketing award from Next Generation Indie Books and others including the coveted Irwin award.
Howard-Johnson is the recipient of the California Legislature’s Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment Award, and her community’s Character and Ethics award for her work promoting tolerance with her writing. She was also named to Pasadena Weekly’s list of “Fourteen San Gabriel Valley women who make life happen” and was given her community’s Diamond Award for Achievement in the Arts. 
The author loves to travel. She has visited eighty-nine countries and has studied writing at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom; Herzen University in St. Petersburg, Russia; and Charles University, Prague. She admits to carrying a pen and journal wherever she goes. Her Web site is

Monday, August 6, 2018


One stands tall,
two stand small.
Flaxen hair,
pin-eyed stare,
basket of strawberry flowers.
Three pretty maids
all in a row,
within an hour.

 by Patricia Crandall

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Tricky Sentence Structure by Mary Deal

Let’s analyze a sentence from a story:

The story: Two women discuss a visit to a doctor. The one who saw the specialist is fine and found to be in good health. She tells the other....

The cardiologist said my heart was strong enough to last another fifty years.”

The parts of the sentence that don’t jibe are the words said and was.

The word said implies something already spoken and is being related in the conversation. This word is correctly used.

The word was is past-tense and ambiguous. Used as it is in this sentence, it implies something has changed to the woman’s health since she visited her doctor; was healthy then, but now....

As stated at the top of this article, we know that the woman’s health is still fine, so the bit of dialogue must accurately show that as well.

Though the dialogue talks about something that happened in the past—the conversation with the doctor—the health condition has not changed in the present. The correct way to write that bit of dialogue is:

The cardiologist said my heart is strong enough to last another fifty years.”

The word was is replaced with is, implying the woman’s heart remains healthy.

Simple nuances like these go undetected by most, even by many avid readers. Misuse of certain words and phrases are part of the colloquial way our English has evolved over time.

To be grammatically correct with past, present and future tenses in writing, we need to be astute and analyze our sentence structures and make them cohesive.

Mary Deal

Author, Painter, Photographer
Eric Hoffer Book Award Winner
National Indie Excellence Book Awards Finalist (past)
Pushcart Prize Nominee
Global eBook Awards Nominee
2014 National Indie Excellence Book Awards Finalist
Global eBook Awards Bronze
Global eBook Awards Silver
Art Gallery:
Gift Gallery:*

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Inside the End Quotes by Mary Deal

Much confusion exists about what goes inside or outside of the end quotes in dialogue.

To digress briefly, the only sentences that should be included in quotation marks are something that someone said. Quotes are used a lot to set off passages taken from other writing. Though allowed, quotation marks are being over-used to draw attention to words and phrases other than dialogue. Considering dialogue, quotes can also be used to set off a repeated portion of something another person said. An example:

~ His response to revealing the secret was that it was “deep and dark.”

Now consider this sentence:

~ San Francisco is known as “The City by the Bay.”

In the examples with quotation marks, I would immediately wonder who said that. Yet, it isn’t written as dialogue. The correct way to set off a title or information other than dialogue is to present it in italics.

San Francisco is known as The City by the Bay.

Having clarified that, what follows is the correct positioning of the end quotes on various forms of dialogue.

All punctuation, whether statement, question or exclamation, belongs inside the end quotes.

Where did you go?” she asked.

In the above sentence, the question mark must follow the question, then the end quotes. Even though we use a question mark instead of a comma, the sentence continues with she asked.

We went to the movie first.”

I don’t believe it!”

I told you, I did it,” she said.

Notice in the last example above that the sentence wasn’t complete until after the word said. A comma was used after it, then the end quotes. The variation from the sentence above with the question mark is that a question mark always follows a question, regardless that there is more to the sentence.
Then we get into a person relating something someone else said. That’s where you find single quotes inside double quotes.

When she became obstinate, her mother said, ‘Go to your room!’”

In this example of dialogue, the sentence within a sentence – Go to your room – is set off with single quotation marks. Notice that the exclamation point ending the dialogue goes inside both sets of end quotes: The exclamation point, then the single end quote to end the dialogue within dialogue, and then the double end quote signifying the final end to the entire string of dialogue.
The exclamation point belongs with the string Go to your room, so belongs inside the single end quote. In the cases where an exclamation point should end the embodying string of dialogue, the exclamation point would be placed between the single end quote and the double one, like this:

I hated that he quietly said, ‘It’s over’!”

Notice here, too, the lack of a period after the repeated dialogue. Someone else said It’s over but it is not the end of the whole sentence that is being spoken in anger. So the exclamation point belongs after the single quote mark but inside the double end quotes.
For most writers, the simple rule is that all punctuation goes inside the end quotes. When it becomes more complicated is when you begin to quote dialogue where one person is telling what another person said. Then many more variations exist.
Much to any writer’s chagrin, instruction for proper usage of quotation marks could fill many pages. It’s wise to have a reputable book of punctuation nearby and seek out the exact examples and solutions you may need for your prose.
To assure your punctuation won’t get your prose rejected, I highly recommend The Chicago Manual of Style: The Essential Guide for Writers, Editors and Publishers.

Mary Deal

Author, Painter, Photographer
Eric Hoffer Book Award Winner
National Indie Excellence Book Awards Finalist (past)
Pushcart Prize Nominee
Global eBook Awards Nominee
2014 National Indie Excellence Book Awards Finalist
Global eBook Awards Bronze
Global eBook Awards Silver
Art Gallery:
Gift Gallery:*

America, a poem by Patricia Crandall published by The Back Road Cafe ! Good reading.